In this podcast, Dean Koontz talks about The House at the End of the World, Odd Thomas, spiritual experiences, and much more.
About Dean Koontz
Acknowledged as “America’s most popular suspense novelist” (Rolling Stone) and as one of today’s most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human. Dean, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna. His latest book is The House at the End of the World.
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The Bonny Swans by P.L. Watts
Coming soon from Cemetery Gates Media and Mother Horror.
The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, narrated by RJ Bayley
Michael David Wilson 0:28
Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers and creatives about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now today, we are chatting with the legendary Dean Koontz. I can't imagine there are many people listening to this, who are not familiar with the international best selling master of suspense. But just in case, among his most notable books are Odd Thomas watch is demon seed, phantoms, and perhaps the most harrowing of them all intensity. Now this week, Dean has released a brand new novel, The House at the end of the world. A book that like many of these novels, manages the span genres, from suspense to mystery to horror, to thriller, and even present some chapters in an epistolary format. And it is a book that like many of Dean's contain short chapters in hearing this constant forward momentum, and story progression. But listen, I know you aren't here to listen to me praise Dean and his work. We all get it. He's one of the best and most prolific writers in the world. You want to hear the conversation in which we talk about everything from his childhood, to life lessons, to spirituality, to writing, and everything in between. So let's take a quick advert break and then I promise we will get to the conversation
Bob Pastorella 2:25
Coming soon from Mother Horror and Cemetery Gates Media, the debut novella from P.L. Watts -- The Bonny Swans. When Anne O’Donnell arrives on a dock in 1789 France with no memory of her past, she allows herself to be renamed Marguerite and taken in as governess for Mellian, the petulant daughter of a rich merchant. But the chateau holds many secrets, some deadly. Wendy N. Wagner says: “The Bonny Swans brings together all the best of the Gothic tropes – a troubled family, a struggling governess, an unhappy child – and stews them in magic, the French Revolution, and queer vibes." For more information visit CemeteryGatesMedia.com
RJ Bayley 2:58
It was as if the video had on zip to my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.
Bob Pastorella 3:06
From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, after a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video is like descends into paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and everyone he loves. The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction for iPhone generation. Available now in paperback ebook and audio.
Michael David Wilson 3:36
All right, well, with that said, Here it is. It is Dean Koontz. On This Is Horror. Dean, welcome to This Is Horror.
Dean Koontz 3:50
Well, thanks for having me there. Except that sounds a little threatening the way you put it.
Michael David Wilson 3:57
I know Yeah, probably doesn't help. But we've been so early here. I'm trying to keep my eyes as open as possible. So maybe that adds to the kind of sinister nature of welcoming you. But it wasn't a frat it was genuinely a warm welcome. And we are so excited to have you here.
Dean Koontz 4:19
Well, I'll take that to be the truth and we'll see how this evolves.
Michael David Wilson 4:24
Alright, well, to begin with, I wonder what early life lessons did you learn growing up in Pennsylvania, and that doesn't necessarily have to pertain to writing or creativity but just anything that you learned you're in those formative years?
Dean Koontz 4:46
Well, one thing I learned which I didn't know I was learning that I would reach a point in life where I'd say I have to get out of all this snow and ice and wind and rain and go live somewhere where there's sunshine. But I was in my late 20s, when I figured that out. One thing I learned from growing up in real poverty, and under the thumb of a violent alcoholic father was that I didn't want that life. And I wanted to find a way to have something better than that. Not just financially, but just in the sense of order, peace. And, and a life that wasn't as chaotic as my father's life was. And as our life was by virtue of being under his thumb. So that was, I think, fairly early in my life. Because for some reason, I was writing stories at the age of eight. And maybe I foresaw maybe I'm sort of psychic clairvoyant or something, I saw that even at eight as somehow a path out of all this. And that I certainly learned, I learned much from my mother, who is a very good person, but very sickly, and, and never was able to achieve what she wanted in her life. And I think probably, I saw that as a lesson too. Don't make the mistake about who you marry. And, and if you do make a mistake, get out of it quickly. And she was never able to do that. And I fortunately, I've never had to do that. I've been married 56 years. And even though my wife every year says, when I say let's hope we're together as long, more as we have been to now says one year at a time. I think that is her right?
Michael David Wilson 6:48
Yeah, I think one year at a time and one step at a time for many things in life can just make it more manageable. And I think, as well, that does apply to writing, you know, take it one sentence at a time, then one chapter at a time when it can make everything feel less daunting.
Dean Koontz 7:12
That's absolutely true. And when, when I started out, when I was eight years old, they were really short little stories written on a tablet paper, and abandoned them up into little buckets and pendulum to relatives for a nickel, as I've said before, and so quite a number of different little stories, until the relatives figured out that they had to bond together. And, and stop this because it was leaving their treasury. It was only Nicholas Knapp if I was very prolific, which I turned out to be. And it was, yeah, and that is a lot of things in life. It amazes me when I look back, I sometimes when people say you've written over 100 bucks, and I stopped counting a long, long time ago. But I say jokingly sometimes well, the author of Turn of the Screw wrote 126 books in his lifetime. Henry, it will come to me by
Michael David Wilson 8:17
Dean Koontz 8:19
James. Yes. I kept thinking Henry Miller, which is a whole different ball of wax.
Michael David Wilson 8:24
Dean Koontz 8:29
And I often say, Well, Henry James 126 books in his lifetime. I am think I'd like to either exceed that if I can. But I think maybe I already have that I stopped counting. But yes, that's how you begin. You do it's, I look back. And it's so daunting. The me who remembers who I was to think even one? Because at the beginning, it seemed unimaginable that you could write one book and have it published, and to have been doing it this long, and still having them published. Without having to hold a gun to anyone's head, which I've never done is is a surprising.
Michael David Wilson 9:13
Yeah. And I mean, in terms of those first stories that you were writing, do you have might have a memory of the kind of stories that you did write it eight years old? And was there a particular story that perhaps got quite a reaction from your family or friends and you don't? Oh, okay. This is how we affect people.
Dean Koontz 9:37
Yeah, actually, it would seem like that might have happened, but it didn't. I came from a family without books in the house. In fact, books were considered a distraction from life. And as a consequence, if they had liked something, it wouldn't have not. And I very much think that they probably never read any of these things. I will say, many years later, when I was reached the bestseller list, gotten to the top of it a few times. I was at a booksellers convention. And I was at dinner, my publisher brought me to dinner with a number of key booksellers. And one of them was somebody also sold collectible books. And when I mentioned these books I'd written at the age of eight, He lightened up and said, Do you have any of those, we could get quite a price for one. I said, first of all, I still had a copy, I wouldn't sell it. But I did remember, there was always some kind of monster in. So that I think was psychological. My father was the monster and I had to write about other monsters that I could manage. But I also remember when he asked me that the only Title I remembered, now all these decades later when this was was a book called The magical puppy, which was a little story I wrote. So while I didn't even have dogs as a child, except for two very brief occasions, dogs were still a fascination for me at that age. And that I think, was interesting for me to recall.
Michael David Wilson 11:18
Yeah, so much like on some has not even psychological, but some other level, you knew that dogs would become such an important part of your life before that actually occurred.
Dean Koontz 11:35
Yeah, I think so. I had to briefly had two dogs when I was five or six years old. And we had a dog came at called Tiny, who weighed 120 pounds. My father had bought him for, he thought he could turn him into a hunting dog. And time he was tied up in the backyard on a chain, which is never the way to have a dog. They need to be with you. And Tony was exuberant. And I went out to play with him. And he wrapped his chain around my neck and was strangling me, my father, my mother happened to look out the window and saw it and came out and rescued me. And I had chainlink bruises around my neck for some days. And that was the end of tiny and I cried when we hadn't tiny yet taken away their lives all called Lucky, who wasn't so lucky. Because she was sick all the time. And my mother also sent her away. So maybe it was a longing for these dogs that I had briefly. And then they were taken away. Which the sad thing is that also happens when you have dogs as an adult. Their lives are so brief, and they get taken away. And it's the saddest thing in the world.
Michael David Wilson 12:47
Yeah, yeah. And I know that something you've spoken about before, I wasn't planning on jumping into this now. But as it's organically come up, I mean, you've referred to dogs and indeed animals as kind of messengers or vessels from God. And I think that that's, you know, can be very true that we can see the divine in different ways. So, I mean, what kind of experiences have you had where you've seen that kind of divinity or, like animals acting as an entrance of God in your life?
Dean Koontz 13:33
I wrote a whole book about the first golden retriever we had Trixie called A Big Little Life. That dog so utterly changed us, I used to work even more than I do. Now, I get up at breakfast. And when we had no dog, I didn't have a dog to walk. So I would have my morning shower, and I'd have my breakfast, I'd be at the keyboard, six 630. And I would work past dinner until seven o'clock or something if I was really going well. The first all we had major change in that. First of all, I had a walker in the morning, so I wasn't getting to work at six or 630. I was getting to work at seven or 730. But bigger than that the first dog, she would come to my desk at five o'clock and stand looking at me in this besieging fashion, which no woman had ever looked at me that way. It was I need you, I want you I don't want you to be working. And if I said I was I just you know, Trixie, like, I gotta do this. Then she would come put your head on my lap. And then if that didn't work, she'd get up with their paws on my chair. And over the period of two weeks, she made me stop at five o'clock, because I would be laughing too much. She would have inserted herself so aggressively. There was way to work anymore. That utterly changed my life and much for the better. And there were so many things I saw about her. And then one day to cut this answer short, since we don't have the seven hour podcasts. I was watching her after we'd had her for several years, where you're in a neighborhood where this gentleman lived in a house around the corner. And he was an elderly man and a walker. And he walked himself every morning, great distance, he would walk all over the community. And he was an Indian fellow. And he came up to me one day and said, Do you know what your dog is? I said, she's a golden retriever. You said, no, no, I don't mean that. He said, in our religion, which I took to be Hindu, he said, we have this belief that sometimes when somebody has lived a perfect, nearly perfect life, and only has to live one more life on Earth before moving on, they come back for their last life as a beautiful dog. And he said, How do you put this, you hit, you have been given the opportunity to raise her in her last life. Whoa, this is a little more than I can. Don't need this kind of thing. But it really struck me that somebody completely outside my sphere would walk up to me and say that, and it really was true about this dog, that by herself. She changed us in many ways. So in the sense, they all have each one after that. And, and I I've had other strange experiences in my life, but, and I write about some of them in that first book about her. But that one was the most profound.
Michael David Wilson 17:03
Yeah, well, and actually fascinating thing to happen. And for somebody who you'd never had an interaction with before, to just approach you and to say that and to be so on the money as well.
Dean Koontz 17:19
Yeah, it's, I was very careful about talking to him henceforth, because I didn't know what else he might tell me about myself that I might not want to hear about. Let's keep it about the dog.
Michael David Wilson 17:33
Yeah, yeah. So did you often run into him then during your walking,
Dean Koontz 17:41
walking, he was very sweet. And years passed. And I wrote this book of that Trixie. And some years passed after that. And I got contacted by his grandson, who said, I read your book, and that was my grandfather. And he said, he was very, very spiritual grandfather, and often told us things that we were surprised he knew about us. And I thought, Well, isn't that interesting? Yeah. It's, you never know who's about to walk into your life.
Michael David Wilson 18:15
Yeah, yeah. And I understand that you two have had some spiritual experiences. And I wondered, you know, if you're thinking about that, what some of the more impactful spiritual experiences are that you've had in your life thus far,
Dean Koontz 18:37
we've had, my wife and I have experienced this things together. And I have said, in some cases, things that we didn't know the other one was experiencing, until we raise the issue. And I'm just great strike that. My wife wasn't surprised the same thing was happening, or we are not people that this happens to all that time. So we were, you know, reluctant to even mentioned it. I have said, and I'll stick by it here that I will write about some of this Monday. But not until I don't care whether people think I'm crazy or not that close to caring. So maybe it's around the corner, and I would write about that, but I'm not quite ready yet.
Michael David Wilson 19:20
Okay, well, we will look forward to that potentially happening in the future then. And hopefully, you won't also simultaneously go crazy, you know, we'll find out.
Dean Koontz 19:35
We'll see. It'll be like an HP Lovecraft story. It will be too much to me to think about it and I'll end up in a basement somewhere breathing. But maybe.
Michael David Wilson 19:48
Yeah, yeah. Well, as much as I would like to read that I don't want the fallout to be that you are kind of permanently confined to a basement. So as long as we can find a way to make that happen without the
Dean Koontz 20:04
battered remarks, so let's not worry.
Michael David Wilson 20:07
You go Yeah, yeah, that's right. I mean, going back to the writing, so because you said that you were writing from the age of eight, but I understand that a point where you thought, okay, maybe this is something I can do professionally is when you were a senior in college, and you won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition. So could you talk us through that moment and the significance in terms of your writing career?
Dean Koontz 20:41
Well, first, you have to know that. In those days, I was a slacker. I, I didn't make a lot of effort as a student. If, if I could write a paper and make up all the references and create a whole bibliography of books I consulted, that never existed, I would do that. I was, I was shameless in that sense, because in my whole academic career, mostly what they wanted me to read was stuff I didn't want to read. So I would fake it. And I would read what I wanted to read, which is, I'm not recommending this to other students. I'm not recommending alignment life of academic crime. But it worked for me for quite a while. And when I was in college, it was actually late in my junior year, I wrote this story, but my senior year here was just around the corner. I was not an A student, let's just say that I may not have even done what the honorable was. I was there just because it was a place to be. And I had no idea where I was going from this. And I had worked in high school to earn the money to go to college. So I got I was gonna go. And then I wrote this story called the kittens and a professor submitted it to Atlantic Monthly competition for college writing and never told me, this was a small college in Pennsylvania that did this every year, all the English department was always sending students stories off. But in 100, and some years, nobody had ever won a prize. And instead, the story won. The great thing for me it was in my senior year, I was a star, not because I was accomplishing anything I condemning. But because I've won this award for this story. And the award was awarded the beginning of my senior year, suddenly, when I was getting C's, B minuses in classes, I was getting all A's, whether I did anything. And it showed me the value of a certain kind of celebrity. And that was interesting. And then also, it showed me this could be a life path. Somehow, suddenly, a kid who nobody thought much of everybody thought something of simply because he could put words together and make something. And then there was no money in that lineup, like Briars that was just nice certificate, that little booklet. Anna, thank you and a pat on the head sort of thing. And so there was a magazine, I still remember it called readers and writers. And they invited submissions from somebody who hadn't been published before. And I sent this in, they paid me $50 for it. And that was the moment when I said, huh, because paperback books in those days were 50 or 60 cents. Now they're like $10. And so with $50, I could buy a lot of paperback books. And that was the first time I realized there might be a way to earn a living with this. And so that was a really profound moment. And that professor who submitted the story, that quite beneficial thing for me, because I would have never thought of submitting a story of mine to the Atlantic Monthly.
Michael David Wilson 24:18
And so then after that, as well, did you kind of increase, I guess, your work ethic? Because you said you know beforehand, you did you put it as a lazy student, you certainly said something that implied things along those lines, whereas now, you know, you're one of the most prolific writers in the world. So when did that change your care?
Dean Koontz 24:46
You know, I've never had that question. Put them in quite that way. And it makes me think about it. And I do think that was the moment where that began to occur. Because I started as a senior in college writing short stories in the science fiction field and submitting them to magazines, even when I was a senior in college. They weren't selling when I was a senior in college. But in my first year out of college, I started to sell them. And so that was a moment where I went, I think what it was I needed something to do that I thought had meaning. Because I was raised in a family and a circumstance where there was no seem to be no meaning to anything, or it was chaos at all times all the time. And suddenly, writing, I could control something. This is an excellent question I wish I thought should have been asked about 30 years ago, but it's never been asked. That I guess is the moment I started to think I can control something. And what I can control is language and making stories out of it. Now, I had a high school English teacher that had been trying to tell me that through the ninth through 11th grade, but I was resistant to lessons, because my self esteem was pretty low in those days. But in college, then I started to think, okay, apply this look, it got you something, it got involved these high grades that you're not earning it got you $50 It got you attention that you've never had before. And maybe there's something here. And so I guess at that moment is where the slacker That's American slang for somebody who doesn't like to work. The slacker went away. And and the hard worker showed up that I didn't even know what's inside there. And and he's been in charge ever since.
Michael David Wilson 26:48
Yeah, although it sounds like from listening to you previously, that whilst the self esteem has, of course, improved to a point, the self doubt has even now never gone away. And so each draft each page, you will go over that, you know, at least 10 times and sometimes 20 or 30. And, you know, my goodness for writers listening to this that think even Dean Koontz is still plagued by self doubt is both, you know, liberating, and and marginally depressing in the sense that it's like, Well, okay, that that is never going to go away.
Dean Koontz 27:32
Probably it isn't, if you'll have that. And probably it should. A little story on the side of that, when I was just beginning to break onto the bestseller list. And I hadn't gotten anywhere near number one. But I had a book coming out called watchers. And because of the couple of books before that People Magazine wanted to do a piece. And it was in the day that they weren't all these little pieces. They were larger articles. And they sent an reporter and then they sent up photographer a couple of days later. And the photographer Jim McHugh, remember him well. He came for set, I'll be here for days, he ended up staying two days. And part of the way through the first day, he said, let's take a break. And I said, okay, because I've never been photographed for a magazine before. And I didn't know how this works. And I said, okay, sure he needs a break. What he meant was, I needed you to take a break. And we sat down, we got some coffee, and he said, I'm going to tell you something about yourself. Your father, or your father and your mother were alcoholics. And one or the other of them was violent. And I looked at him, I had never spoken publicly about this, you know, kind of how they handled the you know that. They said you have all the behavior of an adult child of an alcoholic. You want to control me about what pictures I take, and you do it in the nicest way. You don't make it demanding, but in all kinds of subtle ways. You're trying to control the moment. And that's because as a child, you had no control at all. And you've reached a point in your life where you're saying, I'm gonna control my future. And it was just the most eye opening moment because he was telling me something that I couldn't deny I realized that was absolutely true. And but I haven't seen it about myself. And in the conversation we had I first time talking about the doubt that he attacked you and Jimmy keys said to me, that'll never go away because of your childhood and it never ends. You can do everything you hoped is doing and more and still there it is down there and deep somewhere. You think I don't deserve this. This shouldn't happen, this isn't who I am. And it's just something you'd like. And you get on top of that. And some people don't. I, once I started talking publicly about it, I started getting a lot of mail, from people who went through that same kind of traveled done, sometimes not as bad, sometimes a lot worse, and said, I've never gotten over it. And here I am 40 years old, or 50 or so. And it's screwed up my whole life, how did you get past it? And that made me think of another aspect of it. And I finally thought, and I went back and I said, this is going to sound terribly petty, but I sold it to people. Look, if if I let my father destroy my whole life, he won. And I'm not going to let that Pastor win. And that's the way you've got to think about it. And it may seem petty, but had they just said, Well, you have to think about it, or otherwise they will drag you down forever.
Michael David Wilson 31:01
Yeah, yeah. I mean, my understanding, too, is that late later, in life, you tend to spend some time with your father. And like, he was then also diagnosed to be a sociopath. But I'm wondering how did the dynamic shift when you were an adult? And I mean, did you ever have conversations as well with your father about what had happened? Was that something that was desirable? Or was it better not to have those conversations? Well,
Dean Koontz 31:44
I've tried to keep this short. But we had moved to California, in part to get away from my father, my mother had died young 53. And my father would show up at your door at two in the morning, drunk and angry, and it was just difficult to deal with. And finally, we said, and also it was the weather, my wife said, you know, we're living in cold and rain and wet, and we haven't seen the sun in 40 days, very biblical. So we got to move and we moved to California. And within a year, or so, a friend of my father called up and said, He's destined to is not more than a year to live. So that was a moment when I had to think, Okay, do I just treat him as he treated me, which would be uncaring, and not there? Or do I have to do the opposite. And my wife, bless her said, Well, you have to do the opposite. Now in our defense, or up to make us look too angelic. We didn't think he was going to live here and live 14 years. We brought him west to California, not in our house, but in his own department, and took over supported him. And he got increasingly strange as this time pass. And then it came on boiling this down to a lot of years of grief. And that was when he ended up in a psych ward on two occasions. And it was on the second it first psych ward, he was it was identified as schizophrenic, complicated by alcoholism, with tendency to violence. But on the second occasion, they just said he's sociopathic. And at that point, he had to go into a different kind of care situation. And he made two attempts to kill me in that situation, and the second time in front of a number of witnesses. And he ended up in a more restrictive environment, which we were paying for. So it was all kind of a strange thing. But in that whole process, there was never a moment. This may seem hard to understand, again, this is something I've ever been asked it. There was never a moment where I could say, Why did you do these things? And partly that was because I realized that that point, he had no answer. If you're sociopathic, you have no answer. You're you're basically a Narcissus, who only believes that they may be not as far as solipsist, who believes these are the only real person in the world. But sociopaths do believe they're the only person in the world who matters. And they're very good at faking human human feelings. That's the key thing of sociopathy. They fake human feelings. They don't actually feel them. And at some point, in that process, you realize you're never going to change this. You're never going to be able to have that conversation about why and so you You just accept, this is the way it will be. And you just weathered this. And at some point, it will end. And at some point it did. I'm not proud of the fact that I'm not embarrassed by it either. That on the day my father died, I went and made arrangements. It was in the morning, they called me up. He was in a very nice care facility. They called me up. And he was a danger to nurses and everything in this. And they called me up and said that he had passed away early in the morning. So I went made arrangements where he would be buried, and got that done, took all day to get all of this stuff cleared up. And my wife and I went to dinner together. In a favorite restaurant, there were no tears. But before dinner, we went into the adjacent bar. And they served in this place schooners of beer, which were, I think, probably about 16 ounces of beer. And when these huge, certain mugs, they started that and we tried a considerable amount of beer that night before dinner, we didn't eat until 10 or 11 o'clock at night, because we were sharing what we had been through with my father for 14 years, there was no moment of grief because my father didn't have a friend in the world. When he died, there was no one to call up, except one relative that was left and didn't carry the data yet. And we sat there drinking these beers from five o'clock till 10 or 11 at night, with no concern about how much we consuming never had any effect from this beer. And then we had dinner and went home perfectly sober. That was what a done to us. It was like the most It was that moment that day was the most I don't have to quite explain it. But it was like, on a life of tension was being relieved. Released in one night, and, and then life went on. But the saddest thing about that was my mother was a good person, and enduring how on earth and for all those years. And all the people he touched in his life, didn't care whether he came or when that's not the way to live a life. And even when you're a sociopath, I wonder, Is that something you could have done anything more to have affected? Maybe not? And that's something that has affected my writing because I write about a lot of sociopaths?
Michael David Wilson 37:38
Yeah. Yeah. Goodness, what? What an experience, I mean, what what does one even say to that, that there is not a lot that can be said vectored, just, you know, listen, and I mean, I wonder to know, you know, obviously, having that childhood must have been traumatic on a number of levels for you. And indeed, you've spoken about how it has then affected you later in life. But when you got the kind of diagnosis and then the the explanation as to his sociopathy, did that narrative, in a sense, make things easier to process? I mean, it would never, of course, justify the abhorrent behavior and the things that you went through. But once they're on any level, a healing notion to it.
Dean Koontz 38:41
There was absolutely it gave you an explanation. That was different from just endless selfishness and meanness, this, this gave you something a little more, to hang on to, in a sense, psychologically, no backup and say, it was a difficult challenge. But I was not an unhappy child. I had an act. I've spoken about this before, who knew the circumstances of our father, my mother's sister, and she would look at me Well, there are two sides to it. She always assumed that would be just like my father. I mean, as far as the family, my mother's side of the family is concerned. He was a useless narrative well, and therefore his son was probably gonna be useless nearly well, and partly I was fine like that by being a lazy slacker. I was in school, and but my aunt would stop me sometimes when I would be laying in the yard reading a book, or I would be doing something and laughing and she would stop and say to me, You're too happy for your own good, which I always thought was such a strange thing to say how can one be too happy for his own good? What she meant was I think you're You're just like your father, essentially. Fortunately, I wasn't. But I grew up, I always as a kid knew there were ways that you could find happiness. And the biggest way for me were books because they I could escape through fiction, that world I was living in. But there were also things like I had a wonderful uncle, who I didn't get much for Christmas, because we were very poor. In one year, I had an amazing Christmas, when I was 11. And 12, he bought me a bicycle. And it was a cool bicycle on top of online Schwinn. I could suddenly go all over this little country town we lived in on this bicycle and be far away from the house we lived in. And that brought me a lot of joy. So I was always able to find things that brought me joy. One of those things early on, was comedy. I fell in love with Mad Magazine in its equivalents. I became a big fan of people like Steve Allen, and so forth. And there was always a refuge in that. And that colored my writing as the years went by, because I include considerable yogurt and a lot of books. I something publishers, at first didn't want me to be doing. But were surprised when that turned out to work just fine and didn't damage sales. So finding a way to be happy in the midst of all that was, I think, what, what allowed me to survive.
Michael David Wilson 41:35
Yeah, and I could see, as you mentioned, Mad Magazine, Bob reacting to that. So I'm sure that's an experience that you had to Bob.
Bob Pastorella 41:46
Yeah, mad, cracked, cracked, National Lampoon when I got a little older. You know, it's the humor. It's funny, though, because humor and horror always seem to go together, they're on opposite sides of the same coin. And so it's you see a lot of people who like horror, or like, you know, scary things, they get into funny things. And this is stuff very common.
Dean Koontz 42:14
Well, when horror became successfully new is that were publishers, it didn't think they those two things bound together. And when I first started doing it, it was some of the biggest arguments I had. And I'm not an argumentative guy. But I can remember when lightnings delivered, and there was humor in the book the publisher was, was unable to cope. And we had to take argue about the book for six months before she broke down and published it and then became really a cornerstone of the early career.
Michael David Wilson 42:50
He has interest in it, particularly with retrospect, seeing reactions from publishers and editors that were initially negative, but then you can see how maybe they should have looked at that again, I mean, for example, with Odd Thomas, my understanding is that your publisher, initially hated it.
Dean Koontz 43:17
He absolutely hated it. He was at a certain level in the business. It's not only your editor who read your books, but your publisher now that publishers, very busy people, so they don't read everything they publish. But certain books, there's so much riding on them, they read them. And he had been supportive on the first several books, although we did have problem over humor on CS the night. But when it came to on Thomas, it was not just the humor, it was the whole idea of this lead character, who wasn't what very male lead character is supposed to be. And he couldn't cope with that. And he was so distraught that they had paid what they paid me. And I delivered this quirky, strange character who didn't use a gun, you would use a dust mop, if he had to deal with a felon who had this quirky take on the world. And it just wasn't who he thought people who read what he thought my books were, would relate to. And so my editor had to tell me, he won't read he won't tolerate you writing another book with this character. And I said, Oh, because after I fell in love with this character, I want to write more books with him. So we have a problem. Then the book came out all right, beat even before it came out. booksellers started reading it and the reaction was explosive. They love that the character, they love the books And then the reviews started coming in. And finally my publisher, whom I liked, usually as a person, but we had our differences in our different roles. Within the book business, he came to me, because he had said, don't write in and around Thomas, and don't write me anything that isn't totally scary. And I had one more book over them. And I thought, Okay, then I'm going to have to leave, because I can't be told, you must be limited what you're wanting to write. So I wrote the taking, which is totally scary, you're not going to find a lot of humor in it. And then a lot of tightness went on to be very successful. And he did come back to me, the publisher and say, I will never again will tell you what to write. Let's do another contract. And but he did say, you can write more Odd Thomas, but you'd have to give me something else between each one between each of the Odd Thomas as I said, that's fair enough. So it's, you're gonna have to learn how, however, as a writer, how not to make an argument out of it. I said, we argued, but we never really did. It was more of a debate. And I know writers who get incensed when they're questioned in that manner. And you can't, we all have our opinions on things. And sometimes those people are right. I haven't encountered it often when we disagree. But sometimes I have I knew just have to look at it and say, well, maybe this is an issue where there's some something about this, that you're missing one thing about the growth field, but one thing I've always noticed about editors and publishers, often, in my best position ever with the people are now publishing, I, it's all been going so swimmingly, I'm waiting for disaster to strike. And one thing I've noticed is, a lot of times the editor or publisher will say something to you, this has to be changed, or this is wrong. And here's why. And you'll look at it and say, No, that's fundamental to this book. But one thing I learned a lot of years ago, is they sometimes do sense something that's wrong. And they don't know what it is exactly. So they go into this one element and say to you, this is wrong, you have to change this, and address this. And when you think about it, and you talk to them, you can find out what it is they're really reacting to. And oftentimes it is something you need to address, but it isn't the way they think you need to address it. And I found that to be the most valuable thing I've discovered, as a writer in a relationship with editors don't always dismiss it. But don't always take it for exactly what it is sometimes something that they'll say, and you'll say, Yeah, that's right. I can massage that point. But sometimes there's something that you're feeling, but they don't know exactly why and how to express it. And then it's sort of part of director's job to find out what that is. And sometimes they're just terribly wrong.
Michael David Wilson 48:20
Yeah, yeah. That's very wise advice and finding something that many of us can benefit from. And, yeah, I mean, if you're getting criticism, there might be something there. But as you say, it might not be what they're telling you is. And I guess we have to use that gut and that heart in times like this, and
Dean Koontz 48:45
it's certainly not to interrupt you. But it's why I always say, when I'm talking about younger writers know why you've written like, understand that, on this deeper level, which again, so that you don't take the wrong place or so you don't turn down good advice. And it's hard to do. I always know, multiple reasons why I've done something, it's to advance the mood to advance the pace. To deepen the character needs to have usually three reasons why key things in a book happens. And if I know why, then I know how to defend why need to change it.
Michael David Wilson 49:27
Yes, yes. Well, we should talk about the forthcoming book, The House at the End of the World. And, I mean, I know because we've spoken about this previously, that you don't traditionally, outline your books, but I'm wondering how much did you know going in because for a book that was not outlined, it is so meticulously crafted, and indeed, one imagines that you must have had to do a fair bit of research, right? Because there's so much science packed into particularly the latter half of the book.
Dean Koontz 50:10
Well, you're going to be surprised. I research as I go. So what I knew that what I wanted to write was two things really, one I've written many times in, I like to write because I've met a number of them in my life, and I'm married to women who aren't so psycho psych, logically strong, so psychologically strong, emotionally strong, that they kind of make a lot of men wouldn't be by comparison. It's not obvious hammering you away. Not talking about that kind of woman, but I'm talking about the men's are quiet and very strong. And like China, shepherd in intensity, or actually bill and actually male, or the disabled girl, London clunk. When you're away from heaven. I love writing about that kind of character. Because I've noticed, I don't know that I've always gotten the hands around that character as much as I'd like to. And I was in a mood to write about a woman character like that. Totally alone, no one she can turn to. And a lot of escalating terrible things begin to happen. Then the second thing that I wanted to write about was the failure of a lot of the ruling class in western civilization, that we trust with our votes, but become all about power, not about service to the people that elect them. And this is not about one political side or the other. This applies to almost all of them on some, I wanted to write a book that took that as the center of somebody who was whose, whose society has failed, or in most egregious sort of way, and has had great tragic loss. And the way she wants to cope with it, is just get out of here. I want to be somewhere or like, done left to deal with the society or people. And of course, that kind of story, where it has to go, almost is you can't run away from it, it's going to pursue you. Because those same people are still shaping the world, you got to change the world in a different way. You can't run and hide from it. That was the start of the story. So then it's okay, who is she and where is she, you know, she's this artist, not a writer, but a painter. And I'm, I'm the big art collector, and a wonderful guy to be the kind of painter I really admire. The one book, bucks, the Impressionist, the abstract painting, and like does the old fashioned kind of work, which is hyper realism. And that also fits her character very well, because she's going to have to get hyper real to survive what's going on. So that that starter gets built out of that character. And maybe she's going to have to be on this island where she can't help at all. And then because of her loss, she has the chance to have damage, no attitude, I'm not going to succumb to this. And also at some point in the story, somebody's going to have to come into it that she's responsible for. And I won't let anything go by now she's going to have to step up that it all kind of got built out of that character, and my sort of frustration with looking at the world and the way our health establishment mismanaged COVID So entirely first, Max masks will say the masks will not save you from a virus that's just so on the surface of it stupid. And all the other things that eventually they backed away from and all the things you look at society and see how the people you trust failure on I wanted a book about that, and, and how they would fail you in this book on a potentially catastrophic level. So when she comes there, having the last bullet, she's lost, and I take a long time to let the reader know what that is. I play that out as a suspense element. But then when you know what it is and how awful it is, that it's not just a simple tragedy. They have the bigger issue of what may be lost If what's happening on this island and the island next door is not dealt with becomes it explodes into another level. And then of course, I had to do a lot of research. But for the kid in college in high school hated doing research in amazes me that it's one of the things I like the most. Because that becomes because readers make you do that, if you got something wrong, and you get mail from specialists in the field, could take you to task for it. And then you're going to do meddling in it. And I don't like utilisation because I grew up as a kid and you humiliated about everything, because I'm back from other ones in an airport. So I have to do all that research, but I kind of love it. And it gives them a lot of authenticity, to a story, which is pretty out there. That's why it helps you feel this, this might actually happen. So I think I've answered your question, or maybe they have like far afield?
Michael David Wilson 56:05
I think that that's a brilliant answer. And I'm really wondering, you know, since you're writing and researching simultaneously, what does that logistically look like? I mean, when you're at your computer, and you're writing, if you get to a bit, and you know, okay, this is going to require some research, do you immediately then like, open an internet browser? Or is it a case of putting some placeholder text in and returning to a later date?
Dean Koontz 56:38
I, that's interesting, too. You're asking questions never asked before. So the, I think I have most of my research I do out of books and periodicals. Although that is insufficient anymore. I have a very large library. And I know what to find in anything of it. And I also have a Rolex on which I have the names of quite a number of people in the sciences. It's, I've actually given endorsements to books by physicists and biologists. Who the first time that happened, it surprised me they asked for it. I just said, you don't want a guy who writes fiction putting an endorsement on the book? Oh, yes, because opened the audience, the rest of the guys on the back of the book of all the scientists, but you will be the one who's not. But it's because they know I do this kind of research before I write, then, because I do not go online. I know I'm an obsessive compulsive personality. And once I get online, that might be the end of my writing, I would be surfing the net for the rest of my life. So when there's something I can't find, and I need it urgently, I go to Linda, who connected this, who's sitting here in case something goes wrong, and I won't know what to do. And I say, here's what I need to know find it for me, maybe while I can go back to the writing. And she'll find me four times what I need. But meanwhile, I'm back riding around. And what you said is, normally I'm asking for something I see coming 10 or 20 pages ahead. So I can continue to write where I am. And then when I've got everything on VAs score, I can stop, read it, think about it and see how this affects it. If not, yeah, I can put a placeholder in for a few facts, or something else, and then right around that. But that's that's sort of how it goes. And it's But the internet is an incredible resource. When I was doing the James Hart books, I would, I would say it to him this this. Let's go on to Google Street to this place. And I want to come and sit there and look at the whole. And that made it possible for me to set things in places I hadn't been. But now I could go see exactly what they look like. And I found that just fascinating. And it really enhanced seeing this that other lives wouldn't have been as real and vivid as they were. So so it's all wonderful. Now it's a great new resource for writers. And but I use it all in my own way.
Michael David Wilson 59:35
Yeah, it's so fascinating how having Google Street does enable us to visit places we just would not have visited. I mean, we could literally toured the globe in an afternoon going around these various places. But it's interesting too, because it means that when you're depicting a city, in a sense, there's no excuse to Get the details rang because you've got it there. But then on the other hand, you know, many writers, they they take creative license. So I mean, you can see someone like Lawrence block. And it's like, well, this is my interpretation of New York. This is not a kind of absolute fact your New York and I mean, when you're doing that with your fiction, particularly if there is a real place, how important is it for you to get all the details spot on? And how important is it to say, well, you know, what this is Dean Koontz says, Well, this is not, you know, an actual interpretation.
Dean Koontz 1:00:43
It's, that's the point at which you have to, you have to decide it's a case by case situation in Think of a book I have coming in July called after death. And it's a whole new take on the idea of the synchronicity. It takes the idea at the synchronicity will not produce superhuman, it's going to, it's going to be more limiting that. And in that there is a sequence that takes place in an apple orchard, a vast apple orchard, as there used to be in California before we had certain incredibly stupid political decisions made. And you would go into orchards that were miles on a sign that were vast. And if you're up in the Central Valley now where the water that fed the Central Valley, which produced 60% of the fruit and vegetables for the world on time, and now it doesn't even produce all alone for the country, because the water that comes into the Central Valley, has been denied the Central Valley for all kinds of reasons. So now you can go to orchards of almond trees that are dead, and that aren't worth cutting down. Because there's nothing to do with sunlight, because the water isn't there. Well, I don't know if any of those are apple orchards. But I didn't have almond orchards this up. And my characters weren't in the Sonoma Valley. They were further south toward San Diego. But I just decided, okay, this is my California. And so there's this giant orchard where all the trees are dead. And there's going to be this amazing sequence in it in a rainstorm, where our, our female lead is pursued by a lot of gang bangers in multiple vehicles in this. And she has to rely on our male lead at some point, but he's elsewhere. And she and her son have to take care of themselves. So we can, and it's one of the most for me, it was one of the most exciting sequences I've ever written. And it's quite lengthy. And that our trip is a fabulous setting, because all the trees are dead. And the ground is getting saturated from the rain. And it's it's both a colonic and a suspenseful sequence because the leaves chasing her are not the brightest people in the world as criminals will generally or. And so it has all those elements that are like most in the scene. So yeah, that was you know, somebody who lives here and doesn't say, hey, is there an apple orchard? Like being in the San Diego County area? No, but there are other apple orchards that they are and some of them may be dead. So yeah, you just have to make those decisions. And by the way, a Malawians block fan, so So I wouldn't want him to write any other way. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 1:03:58
Oh, yeah. Yeah. So yeah, phenomenal talent. And, you know, not only is the great fiction writer but there's so much that writers of any age can learn about the craft of writing through him. He's written so many columns, so many books on it, and yeah, such a great guy.
Dean Koontz 1:04:21
Yeah, he started out, you know, working on the Scott Meredith. Literary fact great. I think that was an agent and, and over a number of writers at that time that were just exceptional writers, Donald Westlake Lawrence block, they were friends, Brian Garfield, they all sort of came out of that same little knot, and each one of them did exceptional work. Which was kind of fascinating to me.
Michael David Wilson 1:04:49
Oh, to me, too, and I'm here to bubble so. Oh, definitely. I know that we're coming up to the time that we have together today. So I I do want to get to some questions that have been submitted from our patrons. But I mean, but before we move on to that I just wanted to check with Bob, is there anything from the house at the end of the world that you wanted to jump into that we didn't cover or indeed, another topic at all, because I'm very aware that to say, I have dominated this conversation might be, might be an understatement.
Bob Pastorella 1:05:29
The only thing that that's coming to mind is, if you did touch on this is the, the pacing is, is impeccable. And that's, that's something that I've always kind of wrestled with my own writing. And I know that you don't outline. And I'm sure that every project is probably different in a lot of respects. But a lot of the things kind of carry over from project to project. And I just like, went out without having any type of outline and things like that. How do you how do you get that that says, you know, keep building that suspense, it's like, hey, this, everything is interesting. I want to know more, and you piecemeal the stuff out, and it forces you to turn the pages. It's like, okay, I'm kind of in it's like, I want to get to that point. And I know there's no magic formula, but maybe you having tap a tip or anything like that, that you could pass along, that would be you know, excellent.
Dean Koontz 1:06:33
Well, partly, it goes back to that self doubt and terror of losing the readers interest. But also, I did something. I don't know how big it is. But I did something different in this book that I had done before. I added the next book, after death I've done I've approached the same way. And it's a little hard for me to articulate it, because I'm still getting my head around it. i i First of all, this is not some fundamental, this is just sort of a design thing, I stopped. In this book, I decided not to renumber the chapters, I gave him titles, I've given titles, chapters, or chapters titles before, but I've also numbered them. This time, I just decided to title the chapters. And also to not treat the past in the present at the way that I've always treated them before in a novel, which was you start to tell something about a character's past, within the context of the present when the story is unfolding. Or you do a classical flashback, which maybe you put in italic, or something, I just decided past and present. Go back to what quantum mechanics tells us what TSLA is torrents, past, present, and future are all present in the present. They're all one. And that is essentially true. Science tells us all of time, it was present at the Big Bang at the moment of the Big Bang. So I thought, why don't I write a book like that, if I want to tell you something about the characters past, I don't do it as a flashback, you turn the page is their chapter, it just happens to take placement baths, yet, but it's also dramatic. And as a consequence, without having to say this was in the past, or this was this or that was that. You just bring the reader to that. And there it is. And you keep it succinct, and dramatic. And some of these are a couple of pages. But it gives you that and especially when there I've held out from the reader exactly what is in her past this tomato willing to give up the whole world. And when you get to it, it's given to the liberal big pieces in between all the rest. And I think as that unfolded for me, it brought a lot more power to some of those things. Where as in the past I might have stopped and giving you her past as an extended five 810 page thing may be broken up into two pieces. Here. It's broken up in pieces about the bad guys. And you still don't know what they've done. But you meet them and it's taking place in the past. And I just treat it past and present differently. And I probably shouldn't give that up but it I think it did what you like and it got that pace in the way that doing traditional flashbacks or talking about a character past doesn't give you, you automatically start to slow down a story. But in this case, by treating those moments, as if they are part of the action that just have taken place in them. That's really what it is, it made me think you guys have made me think more than I like to make. That's what it does, it makes you treat the past in the present as if they're all happening simultaneously. But without saying it. And so when you go to that past moment, it's treated like an action scene. And it gives it to you and a person, you go, Whoa, these two pages I learned about these bad guys and things that are doing and, and it feels like an action sequence. But it's actually the past, and how this character's past was destroyed, how her life was destroyed, but it's treated like action. And then, after death, I do the same thing, and had enormous amount of fun with it. And I think I'll be doing a lot of that in the future. The thing that's tricky about it is not confusing the reader. Not saying, wait a minute, where's this without bluntly telling. Now, I've also delivered a very funny novel, I think it's the funniest thing I've done since life expectancy, but it's also a suspense novel. And in this novel, I did, I did the same thing. Except it's a different kind of novel. And then that's very funny. It was laugh out loud to me, as I'm thriving and every day, and my agents, it's their favorite book, I think, that I've ever done. And, but it's also very gripping. I hope. That's why. And in that one, I ran into a little different problem with this technique. I hope I'm not too long with this. But I, I found out that I did have to have to keep the reader apprised of where we were in the way that I didn't have to do so boldly in the house at the end of the world or after dial. And it was because the story was somewhat more complex. And because of the humor. And when I would go to the past, I developed this little thing, that type of would be because it is a comic novel, I could get away with it. This character's name was Ben A while back, this is not exactly what happened. But wow, bending was recuperating from fighting for his life. In this place, he took time to think about his past at the Boys School. And then I give you the past at the Boys School, and you've got it in the title of the chapter. So I'm having a lot of fun on the things, new things. And that's what I think when you're talking about running around a little bit, it's what's great about this, you're never stop learning. If you press yourself, there's an infinite number of techniques to use to grab the reader. And I think if I can still write on a nining, I'll be finding it just as exciting. And new things to bring to it, as I have found thus far.
Bob Pastorella 1:13:22
That's that's, that's interesting in I did notice that and, you know, here's the thing, it's not drawing that there were no chapter numbers. And I thought it was very refreshing that we had chapter headings. And it's, it's it all it flows, it flows very, very well. But if you would have never said that it didn't have chapter numbers, I would have told you that it had chapter numbers because we're so used to that, you know, in reading and so I just like as soon as you said I was like, oh, like don't do they, you know, but it makes sense. And there's an immediate see there that uh, you know, it's, it's something that uh, that is kind of, it's kind of opening up some things there you know, in your mind. Yeah, you're right, we can't wait you have to constantly learn
Dean Koontz 1:14:17
and if you open yourself to sometimes chapter titles that are a little bit longer than normal you can use in this technique you can use that title to plunge into your into something right that might have taken a paragraph at the beginning of the chapter. It's I'm still exploring this but it's really an interesting way to go and I sure where that came from. But it was the way I started writing the book and I thought this kind of works.
Michael David Wilson 1:14:44
Yeah, I think a well crafted kept a title is a story in and of itself. And perhaps my favorite chapter title because it conjured up so much in terms of image theory. But also, just in terms of making me think was an artist is a mathematician who knows the formulas of the soul? And when I read that I know Oh, boy, that is a perfect chapter title right there.
Dean Koontz 1:15:15
Well, for those who haven't read the book, it goes back to a point in our lead characters childhood. And it's the Is this another thing? Because that that is an incident that you couldn't have put into into a suspense novel in a normal way? Because how would you finesse that little thing that happened, or she did when she was a child that tells you a lot about who she is? And how smart she is, and how she can intuitively know how the world works, which becomes very important her saying, and, but by just being able to plug it in as a moment with an interesting chapter title that makes you go, Hmm, I have to know what this is about. Then it suction into that title as a flashback, shown as a flashback I don't think would have. So yeah. But I'm glad that the title of God, that's what was meant to do and make you think, what is this? And that's about something you wouldn't have thought you're gonna be reading about. But it's interesting.
Michael David Wilson 1:16:24
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think people who have been reading your work for a long time, she had no, never say, this is something we won't be reading about. Because people over the years, they've tried to put you into different genres. But you're always full of surprises. And I think that's what you know, makes it so interesting. We don't know what book we're going to get from you. We don't know what genre we don't know what sub genre. And as you've proven here, and proven before, we don't even know what chapter within a book we're going to get.
Dean Koontz 1:17:01
Well, that particular chapter, I have to tell you, after my wife is the first reader, she knows how incompetent I am about household chores and crap. She came to me at the end of that and say, How the hell did you move to how to do this research to make you start doing things around the house, which is the danger of doing the research?
Michael David Wilson 1:17:33
Well, let's hope that you avoided doing that for the time being anyway. You gotta be careful.
Dean Koontz 1:17:42
I can, I can pay for a plumber.
Michael David Wilson 1:17:45
So yeah, there you go. They go. Well, if, if you have the time, can we take a few of the Patreon questions, I know that now we have exceeded the time that we were meant to have together, perhaps?
Dean Koontz 1:18:01
Let's do with your questions. I don't want to cheat your patrons.
Michael David Wilson 1:18:05
Okay, so Luke would like to know, have you ever had an idea for a book that you loved, but that felt too horrific to write?
Dean Koontz 1:18:20
It's, it's never been inconsistent. It's no, I mean, intensity is pretty horrific. What I've always felt is how you write about the subject. You can take the most terrific kind of material, but you can write about it in a way that's moving and touching and involving, and not so horrific that it turns the reader off. I'm not a blood and guts writer. And I can remember, early on in the career, I would be doing book signings and people would come up, and they would say, Oh, I love the books, but sometimes, some of the violent scenes are almost more than I can handle. I would listen to this and I for a while it baffled me. And then one day I said I started saying to people tell me a scene you're talking about. And in one book signing, I had several people specify the same scene. And it's a scene in watchers in which a hired killer kills a scientist. It's pretty early in the book, and it kills her with a hammer. I said to this person, I said to dissemble these people. Okay, tell me how long do you think that scene is? How long does it take that same time fault, not the killing itself? The cabling itself, not when you know he's going to do this. Then he goes and gets a hammer and And then he thinks about it, and then it comes in and he does it. It's not from the moment you know, this is gonna happen. But from the actual killing, how long do you think that takes? All it's so horrific the first one say it, it's like two or three pages. It's one sentence, actually, it's that he picked up the hammer and struck her, destroyed her life knee. At some blows later, she was dead. That's it. It's actually two sentences that conjures something so horrific, that you couldn't have written about it at length and made it more powerful. It's all the tension of building up to it. That makes you think you've read something more her raving. Thank you. I actually have, I never write a lot of blood and gore and things. So that's why I don't think I back away from a subject particularly because it would be handling in such a way that let your mind conjure it all, rather than my mind giving it to you in too much detail.
Michael David Wilson 1:21:10
Right? This is a perfect example of lessons more than letting the reader fill in the blanks. So John shank would like to know, will you ever rerelease how to write best selling fiction?
Dean Koontz 1:21:28
No. Basically, half of it is still accurate, and half of it is ludicrously stupid. The publishing business changed dramatically. In all the years since then, I would have to rewrite it from the ground up. And then certain other things I wrote in, I would want to qualify substantially. I may at some point write about writing. But not not yet. And I would encourage people not to take all of that book too seriously, if they get their hands on a copy of it.
Michael David Wilson 1:22:03
No, okay. Now, Larry, Torre would like to know, and this may be an impossible question to answer of all your books, which ones are your favorites?
Dean Koontz 1:22:17
That is almost impossible to answer. It's, I would I get to ask that from time to time. Yeah, as, as you just said, there, there's so many different kinds of books. I can say intensity would be one of them. But so life expectancy, and that could be hardly two different, more different books, that is to have things in common meaning suspense. One up my ones are comic novel, and one manifestly is not. So it gets very difficult. A major newspaper here is planning to do some piece on me and sending a reporter AM, I get sick to death talking about myself? Unless it's different like this, because you have come up with things I've not been asked. And it's interesting because I'm continue to think about them. And I was asked by the group reporter's read several books in preparation wants to be sure she has read the five or six that you think are your best now. I think five or six, they're more than that are my best. And so you can't say well, here's 25. So you have to think, okay, here different things that I've written. I like them, let's put it that way. But from the corner of his eye on top is life expectancy, intensity. There are just a number of them. I still like a lot of the early books. I wish I hadn't kept him and some as I get in over a few years, I probably will. But quietly slide I'm it's it's a career. Yes. Everybody learns you start. You don't always do the best you can do in the early days. And even later, sometimes you'd go miss. But they're all children. If they were real children, I wouldn't just kill my mom because I didn't like how we had to impact them. So I will I will dis some of the ones I like last by not not including them in my favorite this.
Michael David Wilson 1:24:42
Yeah. And we're glad that you've confirmed that you would not kill a child if anyone was wondering about that.
Dean Koontz 1:24:51
People have been wondering so
Michael David Wilson 1:24:54
yeah, we've cleared it up for now. Well, Daz Eek says, I've read that you are enchanted by the English language. What writers past or present have enchanted you with their use of the English language?
Dean Koontz 1:25:13
Well, Dickens was a powerful influence. But what's funny was we have our design Dickens to read in high school and in college. And I never did, I always just fake it and got through. And then I was, I think, 30 or something. I thought, well, I've got to see what this is about, and pick it up. They have to say yes, and that was just utterly captivated. And I had to remake all of Dickens in the next month. And I remember when I got to the Internet book, it was like three in the morning, and I was sitting up in bed reading it. And my wife woke up, I was in tears at the end of the book, it was one of the most moving last scenes in a book you can imagine. And the different kind of attorney who goes to the death of the gay team, in the name of the man, the woman he loves, is going to marry. And it's just astonishing. And then he pulls off. And so I became increasingly aware of Dickens use of language. John D. MacDonald, American suspense writer was command at language exceptionally well, in a more subtle kind of way, often, Cormac McCarthy, an American writer, especially the early books, I just, I actually delayed reading the road. I haven't read. No Country for Old Men, although I think I'm gonna have to, because I noticed that style had changed. And, but the road is just as magnificent as some of those early books like blood meridian, and the going through paper. But those books, the use of language is just, or his border to relativity is just magnificent. And there's just a lot of people in, in, in all kinds of fields, it's one reason I like writing cross genre books, is because every genre offers you people, Ray Bradbury, for instance, who are of great value. And the idea that great value only occurs in a leader writing a fiction is, is it's more than misconception. It's a myth. Yeah. As a consequence, all of those writers are more than condemned for a fine time to mention, have had a profound influence on me.
Michael David Wilson 1:27:47
Well, we will have to cut off the Patreon questions there, because we have more than overshot the time that we've had together. But thank you so much for being generous with your time. And I mean, we'd love to talk to you if things are lined for after death as well, we can see if that works out. But whether it does, or doesn't, I'm certainly really intrigued to read it, you've already sold me on it.
Dean Koontz 1:28:18
Well, because it's gone. So well, I am totally available anytime. We'll do this again. And I'll try to be cold and not be repetitious. We'll see how it works out. We can maybe get that done in 20 minutes.
Michael David Wilson 1:28:35
We will see we will see. Right? Yes. And very best of luck for the release of the new book. Do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to leave our listeners with?
Dean Koontz 1:28:51
No, you've kind of just opened up a faucet in my head and drained my brain here. And this time, I can hardly think clearly now. So I think I've said about everything I shouldn't say except I'm very grateful for all of us people who have bought the books over the years and keep doing some. And it's a very different publishing world from mass market paperback has all but disappeared. And the ebook hasn't totally replace that. But there are still all those ways to get books in the end, but they keep coming back and it's it's grateful because I have no idea what else I can do. As anyone heard from my assistant set him off screen to my wife in another room can tell you there's nothing else I'm capable of doing. I'm the most incompetent human being so Thank God this works.
Michael David Wilson 1:29:47
Thank you so much for listening to Dean Koontz on This Is Horror. And to new listeners that we've picked up a warm welcome to This Is Horror Podcast. I hope you've had fun hanging out with us. And you'll join us again for some of our other conversations. The conversation with Dean is now in my top two favorite episodes of all time. Alongside my conversation with Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk. Severe new listeners are eager to explore more of our episodes, may I suggest that one with Chuck as a strong follow up. Now other episodes that might be for you include our conversations with Ramsey Campbell, another living legend and a national treasure for a spreads. And if you like the True Blood series, then you may be interested in our conversation with Charlene Harris. There may be zombies are your thing. And if that's the case, then pick your character. If you want American flavor, then go with Brian Keene. And if you want a little bit of British magic in your life, select David Moody. Now how about some of the best work in writers today? We have conversations with the likes of Josh Malerman, who you may know from Birdbox now a major movie on Netflix and talking about books that are now made your movies. We have a number of conversations of Paul Tremblay, whose book A Cabin at the End of the World will soon be released as knock at the cabin by M Night Shyamalan. We've also spoken to Sarah Pinborough, who has written so many suspense filled thrillers including behind her eyes. Again, a TV series on Netflix. If you're a video gamer than our conversations of Antony Johnston might be exactly what you're looking for. He is the writer of dead space and Resident Evil village and we get into those in depth in both of our podcast episodes with him. And if you are a dream weaver then join us on a journey with gaff Marang de pilgrim as we tap into the mind of Matthew honus. Coming up on This Is Horror Podcast. We have got a lot of wonderful conversations with you. We've got episodes lined up with the likes of Cina Pelayo, Jordan Harper, and Stephen Graham Jones to name but free and if you want to get those episodes ahead of the crowd, and support the show, then please do join email@example.com forward slash This Is Horror. It is our mission to reach 200 patrons by the end of 2023. So please do help us make that happen. You will get early access to episodes and additional to exclusive podcasts and video casts. And speaking of video 2023 is the year we bring video to This Is Horror Podcast. So find us on YouTube and also follow us on Tik Tok at This Is Horror Podcast. Now on YouTube, you'll get to enjoy many of our episodes in video format, including the very conversation you've just listened to with Dean.